Flying Squirrel vs Sugar Glider: The Ultimate Guide

Flying Squirrel vs Sugar Glider: The Ultimate Guide

Flying squirrels and sugar gliders may look similar, but they have several key differences. Flying squirrels belong to the squirrel family Sciuridae, the same as tree and ground squirrels, and they are mainly native to North America, Central America, and Southeast Asia. The sugar glider, native to Australia, is a member of the marsupial family like the kangaroo and the koala bear. Let’s take a more in-depth look at the flying squirrel vs sugar glider.

What is a Flying Squirrel?

Flying squirrels are rodents grouped with chipmunks, marmots, prairie dogs, flying squirrels, ground squirrels, and tree squirrels.

They are native to North America and Central America, while the Siberian flying squirrel is native to northern Europe. They live an average of 2-3 years in the wild and up to 5 years in captivity.

A gliding squirrel may be a better name for this tree-scaling animal because of its impressive gliding skills. The flying squirrel doesn’t fly like a bird despite its name.

Flying Squirrel vs Sugar Glider
Flying Squirrel

What is a Sugar Glider?

Sugar gliders, small marsupials, are closely related to the koala bear and the kangaroo. The glider, considered an exotic pet, is native to Australia, New Guinea, Indonesia and was introduced to Tasmania in the early 1800s.

Interestingly, their intelligence level is like a dog, recognizing their name and learning tricks. Gliders can quickly get along with other household pets.

Sugar gliders require specialized diets, habitats, and health care. Gliders are messy, and most don’t succeed well with litter box training, and they also get a lot of pleasure from throwing their food.

Since gliders are not rodents, they rarely need to chew on objects and are not inherently destructive.

One of gliders’ most extraordinary, unknown characteristics is how intensely, quickly, and long-lasting their connection is with their human families.

Flying Squirrel vs Sugar Glider1
Sugar Glider

Flying Squirrel vs Sugar Glider: The Similarities

The flying squirrel and the sugar glider have similar features like their eyes, patagium membrane, sleeping patterns, and caring for their offspring.


They both have enormous eyes, which help them see and forage for food at night.

Patagium Membrane

Both animals have a patagium membrane, a skin flap stretching from the front to the back legs. When the glider’s arms are outstretched, the membrane catches air as they fall, which provides stability and steering when gliding from tree to tree. Gliding benefits the flying squirrel and glider to evade predators and reach food.

Sleeping Pattern

Both animals sleep at night (nocturnal) and are active during the day. A light sleeper may not appreciate either as a pet because of their nighttime shenanigans.

Males Caring for their Offspring

The male flying squirrel and the male sugar glider take no part in raising their offspring.

Metabolic Bone Disease

Flying squirrels and gliders are susceptible to metabolic bone disease. This condition occurs when calcium is deficient in the diet. The disease causes death in both animals if not corrected through supplements or correcting the diet.

Flying Squirrel vs Sugar Glider: The Differences

The flying squirrel differs from the sugar glider in several ways. Those differences include raising their young, companionship requirements, gliding distance, behavior, vocalizations, lifespan, body heat, scent glands, and native origins.

The female flying squirrel is a placental mammal and, and this, and this means the placenta nourishes the babies and develops in the uterus before birth. The sugar glider, a marsupial mammal, spends only a short time developing inside the mother’s body. After birth, the baby crawls into the mother’s pouch, feeding on the mother’s milk, and grows and develops.


A flying squirrel can live alone but also appreciates life with a companion. Gliders differ from flying squirrels because they must have another glider companion. Gliders who are left alone are prone to depression and may become combative.

When gliders are stressed, depressed, confused, have pain, lose their appetite, or don’t have a companion or lose their companion, they often over groom, self-mutilate their tail, or die.

Humans can’t give the same companionship and friendship that another glider can offer. Gliders groom, bond, and exchange vocalizations with other gliders that any human can’t match.

Gliding Distance

A sugar glider can soar from 30 to 165 feet. What’s even more impressive is that flying squirrels glide anywhere from 150 to 500 feet! These two “flying animals” will undeniably amaze you with their ability in the sky!


Sugar Gliders are more nervous and have personality fluctuations, whereas flying squirrels are more relaxed and confident. Sugar gliders are very prone to stress if awakened and taken out of their cages during daytime hours.


Sugar Gliders vocalize when they are scared, irritated, or concerned by repeatedly making a screeching sound called crabbing. Also, they continually bark when seeking other gliders.

Flying squirrels are much less vocal and communicate by chirping.


Sugar gliders live longer than flying squirrels. Flying squirrels live 3 to 5 years in the wild and are about ten years in captivity. In contrast, the sugar glider lives an average of 13-15 years, both in captivity and the absurd.

Body Heat

Sugar Gliders are sensitive to cold temperatures and can die if subjected to cold temperatures. Gliders, native to warm, humid, and tropical environments, require a heat lamp in their habitat to maintain a temperature between 68-72 °F (20-22 °C).

Scent Glands

Sugar Gliders have scent glands that are absent in flying squirrels.

Male sugar gliders have a scent gland on the top of their head, right in the middle. The gland causes a bald spot in the center of the wide part of the black stripe. Males also have a gland in the center of the chest. Both males and females have an anal scent gland, whereas females have a scent gland in their pouch.

Native Origins of flying squirrel VS sugar glider

Sugar gliders originated in Australia and Indonesia while flying squirrels are native to North America.

flying - squirrel - vs - sugar - glider
Flying Squirrel

Flying Squirrel

  • A placental mammal
  • 9-11 inches (24-28 cm)
  • Weigh 2-3 ounces (57-85 gm)
flying - squirrel - vs - sugar - glider - sugar glider on tree
Sugar Glider

Sugar Glider

  • A marsupial mammal
  • 9-12 inches (24-30 cm) long
  • Weigh 4-6 ounces (113-170 gm)

Fun Fact about Flying Squirrels

Base jumpers and skydivers wear a wingsuit to enhance gliding distance, agility performance besides slowing a jumper’s descent. As a matter of face, researchers modeled and designed the wingsuit after a flying squirrel’s anatomy.

Flying squirrels glow neon pink in the dark under ultraviolet light.

They use their claw to extract the nutmeat instead of cracking the shell of the nut open.

Fun Fact about Sugar Gliders

Did you know that gliders, named for their love of sugar, have a “sweet tooth” that is unmatched by any other animal? Gliders are always up for a sugary treat, like sap and nectar. Dental problems are common because of their sugary diet. Please have an annual exam with a veterinarian skilled in treating gliders.

Their hands and feet have four fingers and an opposable thumb, which helps when gliding through the trees.

Final Thoughts About Flying Squirrel vs Sugar Glider

Flying squirrels and sugar gliders are incredibly different; then again, many similarities. Do you have a tip, an experience, or an interesting fact you would like to share with us? Please comment below or contact us, and we will respond!

2 thoughts on “Flying Squirrel vs Sugar Glider: The Ultimate Guide”

  1. So a flying squirrel can gllde about 65 feet, about the length of a bowling alley. A sugar glider can’t soar as far…but it still manages to travel an impressive 164 feet…..???? Isn’t 164 feet more than 65 feet ???? Sooooo…what to believe ….caution ….not everything n the internet is written correctly.

    • Thank you Larry for bringing this inaccuracy to my attention. I have corrected the information and submitted it to Google and Bing for updating in their search engines.


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